Sherlock Holmes leaves Toronto audiences puzzled and disappointed
Last Wednesday I saw the most ill-conceived production of Sherlock Holmes imaginable at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. It reminded me of a not very good community theatre production that scored high on the technical and design sides but low on the overall production side.
My friend Elaine and I were left with a lot of questions.
Was it a drama? A melodrama? A comedy? Elaine thought that possibly it was satire and that the bad accents were deliberate! Why were there dance numbers?
We did like the set. There were mesh (I think) screens that slid in and out like curtains and had video projected on them. George Allister and Patrick Andrew Brown were the video designers and they did a wonderful job of transforming the stage into a rainy London evening, a country house, and – my favourite – an opium den with stylized flowers opening on the walls.
This is the last play that the late Greg Kramer wrote. It borrows heavily from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and follows a predictable path and includes the regular cast of characters: Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, Mrs Hudson for the good guys; Moriarty and henchmen for the bad guys.
The strongest performances were by the bad guys. Kyle Gatehouse was an icily charming Professor Moriarty. His right hand man, and chief doer of violence, Colonel Moran, was played by Graham Cuthbertson with a perfect mix of severity and ferocity. Ana Parsons’ Orchid was sexy and scary and did the best fan snap I’ve ever seen.
All three of them maintained their accents consistently for the entire show.
The rest of the cast seemed to be playing caricatures rather than characters. Mangled accents made some of the dialogue unintelligible.
David Arquette maintained a Colonel Blimp accent by spitting out his lines. I kept expecting him to say “Humph”. His performance was all over the place. Sometimes manic, sometimes serious, sometimes giggling, never satisfying.
James Maslow as Dr. Watson had a bad accent and he stuck with it. The thing about an accent is that unless you do it well and are confident in your ability it gets in the way of your acting and makes for a not very good performance.
Rene Olstead as Lady Irene St.-John (why the hyphen?) is supposed to be from Maine but chose to alternate an American southern accent with an English accent. Her dress was lovely though.
All in all a very disappointing production.
- Sherlock Holmes is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until November 8th
- Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7.30 pm, Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 2 pm and 7 pm
- Ticket prices range from $39.95 to $119.95
- Tickets are available online, by phone at 416.872.1212 or 1.800.461.3333, and at the box office
Photo of Renee Olstead, James Maslow and David Arquette by BRAIN TO